Jaws in July: How to celebrate Shark Week across Pennsylvania

Kid watching the shoal of fish swimming in oceanarium.

NDAB Creativity/Shutterstock.

By Kalena Thomhave

July 9, 2024

Celebrate Shark Week in Pennsylvania by seeing sharks up close at Pa. aquariums and taking part in shark-themed events like trivia and movie screenings.

All week, the Discovery Channel will air the 36th installment of the longest-running cable TV event in history — Shark Week! Launched in 1988, Shark Week is an annual Discovery Channel phenomenon devoted entirely to sharks, those predators of the deep that are both feared and misunderstood.

Unfortunately, Shark Week in the recent past has been chockablock with dodgy science and misinformation about sharks. In fact, shark attacks are pretty rare, but most of the Shark Week programming focuses on sharks as a threat, rather than the fact that they are threatened by overfishing. Still, the popularity of Shark Week increases public awareness of shark conservation and marine biology in general. 

And you don’t have to celebrate Shark Week merely on the TV screen! You can learn about sharks, which have been around for 450 million years, as you explore the commonwealth. Whether you see sharks up close at Pennsylvania aquariums, learn about sharks (or demonstrate your knowledge) at Pa. museums, or simply enjoy shark-themed activities at the movies or your local library, you can dedicate a week this summer to our favorite apex predator — the shark!

Where to see sharks

Pennsylvania may not share a border with the ocean, but you can still see sharks in our state. Besides housing sharks and other marine animals for public education, Pa. aquariums also promote ocean conservation.

Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium – Pittsburgh

At the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium, you can witness a number of different species of sharks swimming behind the aquarium glass. One of them, the blacktip reef shark, is a social animal that’s vulnerable to overfishing within its home — the coral reefs of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. If you want to get even closer to the sharks, you can pay $60 for a shark encounter, held on Saturdays, during which participants can feed sharks like blacktip reef sharks, zebra sharks, and epaulette sharks.  

Electric City Aquarium & Reptile Den – Scranton

Downtown Scranton’s Electric City Aquarium & Reptile Den houses thousands of saltwater animals, including sharks like blacktip reef sharks. These sharks are usually shy and skittish when around humans, and no person has ever been killed by one. You can view the sharks in their regular aquarium habitats, and you can also watch shark feedings on weekend afternoons.

Where to learn about sharks

You can understand more about sharks by learning about these fish, and natural history in general, at Pa. museums.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History – Pittsburgh 

Learn about the natural world and the formation of oceans at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Shark fans will gravitate toward shark tooth fossils and the exhibits within the Cretaceous Seaway, which showcases shark-like animals like the mosasaur that had features we associate with sharks, like serrated teeth and asymmetrical tail fins.

Get excited for this fall at the Da Vinci Science Center – Allentown

We encourage you to mark your calendars for this one. The Da Vinci Science Center, which just opened a brand-new building in May, will this fall host a massive exhibit devoted to sharks — entitled, you guessed it, “Sharks.” The traveling exhibit was put together by New York’s American Museum of Natural History. While the exhibit is not open yet, we know that any shark lover would want to know about it.

Shark swimming in an aquarium.

See “Jaws”

This blockbuster movie almost certainly contributed to an increase in galeophobia (fear of sharks) among the general public after it first premiered in 1975. “Jaws” is not necessarily scientific — it does promote inaccurate stereotypes about sharks — but it’s a classic film that pushed sharks into the public eye.

Jaws at The Emmaus Theatre – Emmaus

The Emmaus Theatre, a quirky theater in the Lehigh Valley, is showing “Jaws” July 12 through July 14. Tickets are $10 and the showings are BYOB! If you’re up for a double feature, “Jaws 2” will play directly after each screening.

Jaws at SteelStacks – Bethlehem 

Buy tickets during Shark Week for the July 31 screening of “Jaws,” part of a series of classic summer movies at SteelStacks. Regular adult tickets are $11. You can also attend a seminar on “Jaws” with a communications professor before and after the film. Those tickets, which include a ticket to the movie, are $22.

Jaws at The County Theater – Doylestown 

The nonprofit, arthouse County Theater in Doylestown is screening Jaws on July 24 and July 28. Local brewery Artifact Brewing will be selling beer in the lobby before the evening showing on July 24.

Have some sharky fun

Not all of these shark-themed activities will help you learn more about the ocean predator — some are just fun — but they all will allow you to embrace your love of sharks.

See the Shark Stone in Allegheny Cemetery – Pittsburgh

The tombstone in the shape of a shark at Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Cemetery is a monument to Lester C. Madden, who died in 1983, loved the movie “Jaws,” and had a great sense of humor. 

Shark Week Trivia at täkō tôrtä – Pittsburgh

On July 17, prove your shark knowledge at a shark-themed trivia night at the Mexican restaurant täkō tôrtä.

Make a Shark Masterpiece at Painting with a Twist – Greensburg

The Greensburg location of Painting with a Twist is leading shark painting sessions on July 11 and July 12. The July 11 shark painting is reminiscent of “Jaws” while the shark to be painted on July 12 is much cuter than it is scary.

Teen Time: Shark Week Scavenger Hunt and Trivia – Allentown Public Library

No registration is required for the Allentown Public Library’s July 22 shark-themed scavenger hunt and trivia event for teens ages 12-18.

Shark Week at the Library – Wyalusing

The Wyalusing Public Library in Bradford County is hosting its own Shark Week, with events taking place between August 11 and August 17.

How to contribute to shark conservation

It’s true that shark vulnerability isn’t due to individual actions, but large-scale overfishing. Still, you can make choices each day that benefit marine life like sharks.

Choose sustainable seafood

While shark fin soup is rare in Pennsylvania., if you see it on a menu, don’t order it. Also refrain from buying items that use shark liver oil or shark meat. (While you may think you’ve never bought such items, think again! For example, shark meat is sometimes used in artificial crab—like what you’d find in a California sushi roll.)

Reduce your plastic waste

Plastic waste can be swallowed by animals in the ocean, including sharks. Try to limit how much single-use plastic you use. For instance, you can swap single-use bottles of water for reusable water bottles.

Shut down misinformation

Sharks may look scary with their rows and rows of teeth, but remember that shark attacks are incredibly rare — barely a dozen of the more than 500 species of sharks in the world pose a potential risk to humans. Public fear is actually dangerous for sharks, because it’s easier for people to ignore threats to animals they think are frightening rather than beautiful or cute. When people talk about sharks as if they’re mindless killers, correct the record!

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Jaws in July: How to celebrate Shark Week across PennsylvaniaJaws in July: How to celebrate Shark Week across Pennsylvania

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